The Anka Co-Operative: Empowering Syrian Refugees
The Anka Co-Operative: Empowering Syrian Refugees

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Anka Co-op is a nonprofit with a mission to create a path to self-empowerment of Syrian refugees. Since 2012, with the support of the Turkish Government, the Anka Cooperative has been in Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. At Anka we are currently supporting 250 Syrian refugee women by teaching them the craft of rug weaving, and through that venture helping them to preserve their dignity and pride by making an honest living for themselves and their loved ones.  

Pictured above: the Anka (Turkish/Arabic),
or phoenix, drawn by a child refugee. The 
left wing is the Turkish flag, and the right 
wing is the Free Syria flag.

Syrian women in Turkish refugee camps survive in a surreal state of limbo.  Their lives are filled with more questions than answers; some as fundamental as how they will provide the basics for themselves and family. Further, young women in these camps are limited in how they may better their situation or pass the months or years they live in the camps. 

What can they do to improve their future?  

The Anka Co-op answers these questions by providing these women with the dignity of work, transferable skills, and cultural integration with a foreign society through the creation of traditional Turkish crafts. By bringing these high quality rugs, hand woven by these women, into the Western marketplace, we are committed to helping these women support their families, and hope to raise awareness of the plight of these and all refugees. Through empowerment, employment, and education, Anka’s goal is to integrate and uplift the women in the co-op, and in turn their families, out of the crisis and into a new life.  

 Pictured above: Co-Op member weavers
a refugee camp in Turkey 

The funds that we raise from our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, which will launch in August 2016, will support our three pillars of operation:

  1. Empower: Leveraging the expertise of Woven Legends, a well-respected organization in the carpet industry, we teach these women how to make traditional oriental carpets. The goal of this two fold; to give them a skill that they can support their families with and keep their hands and minds active, something critical for mental wellbeing in time of crisis.

  2. Employ: Once they are skilled in the tradecraft, smaller looms will be given to the women to weave small rugs in their shelters at their own pace. Anka will then sell them on their behalf in the local markets and eventually to a US and western audience.  100% of all proceeds from this high quality, handcrafted products will go to further training programs to address basic women's health and education, help them help their families, and assist them as they rebuild their lives after the unimaginable turmoil the Syrian civil war has caused them. 

  3. Educate: Our aim to educate is multipronged.   First and foremost we hope to supplement the integration efforts already in place at the co-op by funding additional Turkish language instructors at each co-op location. By learning Turkish, and obtaining the ability to communicate, they can truly benefit from the confidence and dignity the employment brings by being able to go out and about in their adopted homeland. They can tell their own stories and be their own people.  We also aim to educate those who buy the carpets on the plight of the women who make them. Using social media, we hope to tell the stories of the women who make the carpets and other products and bring awareness to their efforts to rebuild their lives and help their families. By keeping the consumer aware of the issue, we keep the issue at the forefront, and can work together to find a solution. 
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